About monica


inflection point drawings

“There is always the inflection point in a drawing-the point at which it takes on its own presence and becomes more than its content. There is also the point where others view it and it becomes their image. I know that if I create art, these points will occur, and I can work to control part of the process leading up to these points. Ultimately, however, not all of it is mine to control.” Mary Shindell

Mary explains Vector and Pixel files to me and another gallery visitor. And while I understand some things, I don’t understand all of what she says. To make it clear she describes how her lines are made. A Vector file makes a clean, intense line, she says as she shows me one and compares it to a pixellated line. Once I see the quality of the line, I understand. We discuss her digital drawings and compare them to traditional printmaking, both in quality and process. I suggest she teach a class ( teach me is what I really think).

There are three large works on paper, on the east wall of the gallery. Each of the compositions stands as a unique work though they connect directly through process. One design uses the other, and then again.  Mary draws with graphite, inks, gouache, and she also draws using her computer.

Below are details from the large 42 x 42″ works on paper. Can you see how they connect? One is a digital photo of the original graphite drawing. The second is the original graphite drawing with added media, all completed by hand. The last one is computer generated and uses the other two.

Note: My photos are not perfectly aligned. I shoot the right side (first 3)  and then the left (next 3 of the drawings.


Left edge detail
Inflection Point: Estrellas, Moon
drawing, graphite, ink, digitally archived



Left edge detail
Variant 1: Bougainvillea, Sweet gum, Seed Pods, Mesquite Beans, Moon Craters
drawing, graphite, ink, prisma, pastel
42 x 42″s.


Left edge detail
Variant II: Fig, Bougainvillea, Sweet gum, Mesquite Beans, Moon Craters
digital drawing composited with graphite and ink archival ink jet print

Mary places the viewer above the work. We hover perhaps in space, and see the top view of a multi-layered landscape that in this case includes: the moon, the Estrella Mountains, and the beautiful Arizona flora.

I look closely at the work and identify elements but then I have to stand back to take it all in. The brilliant details captivate.


Right edge detail
Inflection Point: Estrellas, Moon
drawing, graphite, ink, digitally archived



Left edge detail
Variant 1: Bougainvillea, Sweet gum, Seed Pods, Mesquite Beans, Moon Craters
drawing, graphite, ink, Prisma, pastel
42 x 42″


Right edge detail
Variant II: Fig, Bougainvillea, Sweet gum, Mesquite Beans, Moon Craters
Digital drawing composited with graphite and ink archival ink jet print

Along the west wall Mary shows a series of small drawings and digital prints. She explains she works things out on these smaller works in between stages of the larger works.  Here are photos of two and a detail shot of a third.


Fig Moon Drawing
Digital Drawing
composited with graphite and ink drawing on Arches Aquarelle, archival ink jet print


Fig Moon 
Prisma and Gouache on Johanna

I ask Mary about the title of the exhibition, Inflection Point. She explains the mathematical term.  An inflection point is a point on a curve at which the curve changes from being convex to concave. I understand, I am familiar with the concept. She identifies it as a changing point, a point of transition.

I’ve known Mary for a long time – she continues to mesmerize me with her curiosity, her attention to detail and her growing skills. She is always on to something new and wonderful.

I will drop in to see the exhibition one more time – in case I missed anything.


Detail: Mesquite Beans, Moon

Inflection Point drawings opened this First Friday and will run to the end of the month.

Who: Mary Shindell
What: Inflection Point drawings
Where: 515 arts – 515 East Roosevelt, Phoenix, AZ 85004
When: 1/2/2015 – 1/31/2015 (artist’s reception 1/16/2015)


state of the art


I am one of 102 artist selected for the Sate of the Art, Discovering American Art Now. Carolyn and I travel to Bentonville, Arkansas to attend the opening at Crystal Bridges Museum. We hoped Mary would come with – but you can’t be in 2 places at one time and she is in Alaska. I write about the 4 days we are there, in my blog today. I share the link here.

Crystal Bridges Museum is a venue dedicated to American art and artists, a place of learning and community.


I arrive into Bentonville, Arkansas to attend opening events for the State of the Art exhibition. The show is extraordinary in that it truly does display my contemporaries – working artists from across the United States. I receive a glimpse of where I sit in the grand picture → Continue Reading

among the wild is one domestic

The Feral Cat
10407927_10204499024746198_8125045016618442358_nCarolyn captured a feral kitten she’s calling Feisty. The white cat was small but wild; with patience and know-how Carolyn helped the kitty become healthy and now it’s learning trust. Feisty will be ready to make his way to a good home soon.

After weeks of working with the cat Carolyn wants to introduce the feline to another person, and at her request I spend an afternoon working in her studio. I manage to spill Feisty’s water and food but in general the first visit goes well. After another visit the kitten appears to recognize me. I have a decent sense of cat anatomy,  and between that and Carolyn’s cat behavior knowledge – Feisty settles in my arms. I am like a tree limb – as he hangs in relaxation.


The bones
Carolyn’s studio is like a research lab for animal study. Organized along the shelves are  skeletal bones and mummified critters that she has found and collected. Here are the newest additions – a series of bird bones she has cleaned and preserved in small transparent boxes – they’re magical.


Raven skull.


Raven bones

IMG_6590 IMG_6585

IMG_6584 IMG_6586

And then there’s the artwork …
Will you be drawing Feisty? I ask Carolyn after my first visit with him. I don’t really draw domestic animals, she answers. I’m amused because that one day I would not have described the kitten as domesticated.

While in the studio I note all the animals on the walls, staring at us that afternoon. Here are only a few of them.


Bear – Bear


Baboon – Baboon


Monkey – Monkey

There’s all the Preservation series as well.

IMG_6598 IMG_6600Current work – a graphite on prepared paper drawing – sits on the table most of the time we are in there. Feisty sits nearby it.


A lead pencil next to a rendering of a very small bear.


I don’t ignore the cut outs of animals of all sorts – that are arranged in bags and boxes.


On my visit last week I mention to Carolyn I want to blog about the 3 dimensional and 2 dimensional activity that makes up her studio right now.

Of course it includes Feisty, the now truly one domestic creature among all the wild ones.


All of Feisty’s taming and progress is posted into Carolyn’s Facebook page and will continue until he finds a good home.

I mentioned I am familiar with cat anatomy. I spent last summer studying and making numerous works about it. This summer I learn more about animal behavior and the creation of trust. One cannot help but consider human behavior and how we treat the most vulnerable among us, it says so much about us as a people.

“If you talk to the animals they will talk with you and you will know each other. If you do not talk to them you will not know them and what you do not know, you will fear. What one fears, one destroys.” – Chief Dan George, Tsleil-Waututh Nation

If I ask you to give me the connecting thread that moves through Carolyn’s studio, what would your answer be?

celebrating women’s history month

Estrella Mountain Community College in Avondale invited the three of us to show for the month of March, in celebration of Women’s History Month. The exhibit is titled Body Creature Nature.

We installed on Tuesday. It was unusual in that it’s not an actual gallery, but more of an exhibition area. Think striking museum glass case – because that’s what it is. We are pleased with the visual result which is rich, warm and inviting.

Below are the one larger work from each of us. There are some nice surprises in this particular exhibit – things you might not have seen before.


Portrait, 2011
graphite, gouache on canvas
45 x 86″


Female Torso – Anterior View
Casein, Gouache, gesso on Canvas
45 x 35.5


Cactus Fab
Archival injet print
77 x 14″


Estrella info sheet

Information sheet

Below, we work together easily to install. Naturally conversation starts up with what might be next.

1507915_10152240918207298_1950747415_n 1911787_10152208614859869_1401359459_n 1959921_10152240926297298_1834233430_n 998029_10152240918167298_152023687_n IMG_5703

The exhibit will run the entire month of March.

Thank you Estrella Mountain Community College.
And a special thanks to Kathleen Iudicello, PhD. the Interim Dean of Academic Affairs.

a side note:
After the install we spent the afternoon talking about what may come next. Out of that conversation we decided to make changes to this blog. I’ve already changed a few things in the layout. While the blog was created for our last exhibit Creature Man Nature, we plan to continue working together and consequently the blog will reflect things as they move forward.



the bat

Mary, Carolyn and I have been busy since our last posting back in April. Among other things – Mary had a solo at 515 Arts. Carolyn and I went to New York to go see art. We saw lots of it. I became more interested in space. As artists we always deal with it but somehow I became more engaged in the experience of art – space – work.

Mary was also in New York, she went for her son’s wedding. I caught up with her last week on the last day of her show. I mentioned to her that Carolyn called me earlier in the month. She’d had an idea pop up while working in her garden. It could be the start of our next project – a clear collaboration – an installation. We talked specifically about individual area, handling space and the use of materials. I liked the abstract very much. I told Mary I would let Carolyn give her the run down.

In the meantime Creature Man Nature – a very small version of it – will show at a college here in the valley, this winter.

As we wind down from a busy summer/year and begin a new art season we’ll be considering what comes next. Will we keep this blog? Change its name? Go outside of Arizona? – TBD.

In the meantime today I spent the afternoon at Carolyn’s studio. I am working on small anatomy studies of creatures … that’s her arena … I wanted to see a bat skeleton she mentioned having. I forgot my camera. She brought out hers and here are a few photos of things that caught my attention.

turtleskull birdskull gekko

A good idea, some interesting photos – not necessarily directly related but are the cause of the update and this post.

It’s organic.

meeting with superstition review


The Invite
Carolyn and I receive an email from Patricia Colleen Murphy,  the founding editor of Superstition Review.

Hi Monica and Carolyn,
Congratulations on your exhibition at Mesa Center for the Arts. I’m so proud of you! It’s really exciting.

And I have some great news too. Our launch party has grown so big we needed a new venue, so we’re going to host it at MCA. We’re planning for Thursday April 25, and our guests will get free entrance to the museum before the launch party starts at 6:30. I am just thrilled that your work will be up while we’re there.

I’m writing to invite you to the party and ask if you might be willing to say some words about your work while we are there? And might we run a piece on our blog about your show? I’d love to include Mary too, though I haven’t met her yet.

Congrats again!


The meeting
We accept Trish’s offer, and set a date to meet for an interview. It’s an honor for Carolyn and I to connect with her again.  Superstition Review featured both of our art work in their magazine last Spring, and we spoke at their launch as well.  We connect on Friday, in the gallery. Trish meets Mary and quickly offers her a feature post this Spring.




Trish and Dominique looking closely at Carolyn’s work.


Mary share her process, while Dominique takes notes. Carolyn and Trish look on while I walk around.


Dominique and Carolyn talk, while visitors walk through the space.

While we conduct interviews – museum visitors enter and exit the gallery. Up the hallway is the activity of a new install. The usual people move about doing their work. I like the feel and naturalness of everything.

Photos of our meeting include artists, Trish, and the bright Dominique Brigham, who had plenty of questions for us. She’s writing the feature.


Monica, Trish, Carolyn, Mary, and Dominique

The launch
There will be a few people reading and we’ll be speaking – artists and writers … a good match. I enjoyed the launch Carolyn and I participated in before. It was a memorable and multilayered experience – out of our (regular) element as visual artists. This time guests will see the art work before we speak ( last time we showed digital images ). We plan to talk about how Mary, Carolyn and I began our partnership, and how we see our work evolving.

A productive meeting/interview with Superstition Magazine at Mesa Contemporary Arts – I call it one fine Friday morning.  We’ll be seeing everyone on Thursday April 25, at the Issue 11 launch party.  A congratulation to Superstition Review and Patricia Colleen Murphy on their continued success.

More info:
Carolyn Lavender, Issue 9, Spring 2012
Monica Aissa Martinez, Issue 9, Spring 2012

A note: The content for this post evolved out of someone asking me how Superstition Review selects participants. This is first an educational blog – we address process: work and general events. I share the general event, and in particular – I suspect the how always varies. In this case, my guess is that our work was in the right place at the right time (MCA). And most importantly Patricia Colleen Murphy knows our work..

carolyn and the creatures

You know – Carolyn represents the Creature. I’ve made it clear that her laborious process fascinates me. I was in her studio several times the last few months. I took early shots of a Javelina progressing.


Glossy print stage of Collared Peccary or Javelina. 


He gets photoshopped into the woods.

The tracing below, I caught on Dec 11th. The end photo I got in the gallery, last week.


The enlarged photo-shopped composition gets transferred to drawing boards.


The Collard Peccary sits detailed into his spot on the composition.

I also catch the Musk-Ox on Dec 11.  At the time, I focus on the dense, black-inked area of tree branches in the center. The Ox silver tracing sits to the side waiting to come alive. In the  final stage the ox becomes primary in focus.



And below is the work on the wall in the gallery. It’s large, consequently this photo doesn’t do it justice. It holds 20 creature representations (if you count a couple of skulls).  I’ve heard Carolyn call them out several times now. There are sheep, goat, hawk, 2 javalinas, zebra, white deer, deer mount, mule deer, antelope, owl, squirrel, coatimundi, road runner, quail, musk-ox, crazy goat with beads, 2 skulls (sheep?), and pronghorn. If the blog allowed I’d tag them so you could know right where they are. It’s part of the enjoyment of standing in front of the real work. Some show up obviously, while others come into sight by surprise. If you get a chance to hear Carolyn talk about her work, take it. She weaves everything together with intelligence and amusement.

Preservation Woods

Preservation Woods
Acrylic on 10 prepared acid-free foam-core panels
80 x 160 inches

You know, I’m interested in anatomy. While my focus is mostly on human, I love animal anatomy as well because from that point of view, we connect.

Recently Carolyn generously loaned me some of her animal anatomy books. The one cat book in the background is mine. I pull the books out across my desk, go through them, think about drawing, then put them away. While I appreciate the loan, what do I do with the inspiration?

IMG_3737Yesterday the three of us discussed how we might be influencing each other. The few animals in my work are abstract and symbolic. My cat appears in one work, a snake and a frog in another. My inclusion of an animal and its anatomical structure is very different from Carolyn’s focus. Carolyn renders taxidermy, in a realistic manner, in a constructed natural setting. Reread that last sentence.

I don’t know about focusing on animal anatomy more than I do at this point. While the books excite me, for now animal is Creature, and Creature is Carolyn.

artist reception – a bit of rain and one fine crowd


This framed image greeted guests as they arrived to our reception.

IMG_3711Despite rain, we got off to a great start. I took my camera and planned to take lots of photos. But that didn’t happen. I didn’t think about pictures.

Here is all I captured …
Rick, Mary’s husband, sent  beautiful flowers. ↑ Thanks Rick!

The hallway wall shows a few smaller works from each of us. It’s a solid introduction to what you’ll see as you come upon the entrance to the North Gallery. ↓

b2 The stream of people coming and going was steady the entire evening.↓

IMG_3699How did this come about? What did you do to make this happen? The grouping is greatI
If I could focus I’d explain some of the story – how we connected, how we applied for the show. If I was not so focused and being lighter I’d say, I picked up the phone and asked! There is truth in all of it. Except I don’t believe I ever picked up the phone. I emailed, it’s the 21st century.

Mary ↓with a group of friends. They were taking too long, so I shot the photo.


Mary, Carolyn and I ended the evening with these last photos. I’m including all of them, because we’re standing at slightly different angles, so you can see some of the background work of each.  And because I like all three of them.



IMG_3709 There were a number of people taking photos, including Mesa. As we get access to them, we’ll post them.

docent talk


Tiffany drops us a note: Would you be interested in speaking to the Docents about your exhibition? Since there are three of you, I thought it would be best to have you discuss the work in the exhibit, so we can do this as a gallery talk. It would be wonderful for the Docents to hear from you first-hand and have a better understanding of your work, so they can communicate it during their tours.

Aside from giving the talk this evening, Mary and I are seeing the complete install for the first time. As one approaches the end of the long hallway the exhibit and artist names appear in white letters on a  turquoise backdrop . That’s some expression already.


You turn right and the entire space is active and yet beautifully still.


Introductions occur and Mary begins the evening. I think I know all about her process. I learn more. People are curious about materials and the digital drawing intrigues everyone. I mention we have a process video in the blog. Someone notes the bright details scattered across the surface and Mary tells them its bits of Terrazzo flooring she’s composed into the print. She also makes note of the connection between creating this work and her printmaking background. IMG_3662

Carolyn points out the various animals in her large work, and tells about where she photographed each one. The group asks if there are any birds in the drawing. She points one out and everyone enjoys seeing it. It’s a seek and find process for them. We hear about her video, her yard, and the stray black cat we see on the screen. It’s drinking in the garden fountain. She explains how days later she finds him dead, she guesses a car may have struck him. He’s now buried in her property. One of the Docents comments the work is thought-provoking.
IMG_3664I finish the evening. People relate easily to the body. I share what I think is a humorous story of how things began. I end it by saying it needs to stay in the gallery, and between us. Tiffany finds a frog in the large self-portrait. And she asks about the snake. Someone mentions they could keep looking and keep seeing new things. There is an MD in the house, and he comments on the accuracy of the various structures. As a runner, a yogi, and artist, I’ve studied human anatomy for years. He notes an EKG line.IMG_3671

The evening is full of intelligent questions, thoughtful comments and many laughs.  Tiffany you have a good group.

Below are photos we took just before we got going. We’ll show you more gallery photos and artwork in the posts to come.
As I pull this post together I think about the beautiful maquette Mary made. She visualized the final layout well.


Carolyn Lavender, Works on Panel and Paper and Video


Mary Shindell, Print and Sculpture


Monica Aissa Martinez, Works on Paper and on Canvas